Lent is coming! It will be here in only three days—and I just can’t wait! It’s my busiest and best time of the year. The main reason I love it so much is that I am one of the privileged few who work with the Catechumens (the unbaptized adults who are preparing to be received into the Church at Easter). Lent was actually invented for them, you know. Yep, it was meant to be a time of testing and scrutiny for them before they enter the waters of Baptism, and it’s modeled after Jesus’ 40 days in the desert. As we all are reminded of our own Baptisms at the Easter celebration with the Renewal of our Baptismal Vows and the Sprinkling Rite, Lent is a time of preparation for all of us.
One of my favorite Lenten hymns is “Led By the Spirit.” It is a super cheerful song in it’s melody, and the words really get to the heart of the matter. My favorite phrase from it is, “Led by the Spirit we confront temptation face to face, and know full well we must rely on God’s redeeming grace.” That just sums up the whole thing in one perfect line and it reminds me of a really great email I got a couple of years ago. It said something like, “Live each day so that when you wake up each morning the devil says, ‘Oh, shoot (paraphrasing)—she’s awake!’” Lent is all about going to that place—the place where you decide the devil has no power over you and you are going to make all of your decisions, and let all of your actions be based in the knowledge that you are child of God.
That’s what happens in a most profound way with the Catechumens every year during Lent (but they are not called Catechumens anymore once the first week of Lent rolls around—they go to the Rite of Election with the Bishop and then they are called “Elect” which means that they have been chosen by God for Baptism at the Easter Vigil). And at this time instead of them taking their example from our Christian witness, we (the RCIA team and the Elect’s Sponsors) wind up taking inspiration from theirs.
Lent is awesome. It offers so many opportunities to reflect on who we are and who we are supposed to be. It’s a desert journey that can get a little hairy if you really enter into it. But the results are worth the work. So, this Lent, get in the devil’s face, point right at him and say, “You stink, mister—and you’re not having any influence over me anymore!” Go into the desert with Christ and come out the new creation that you’re called to be.